As I mentioned in my previous post, my aunt stumbled upon a New York Supreme Court case that involved Billy Gallagher. The original trial occurred in 1929 and arose out of the sale of some property a few months before an involuntary bankruptcy petition was filed on his behalf.
This court record included hundreds of pages of testimony and exhibits that contain clues that led me to other court records, which I am in the process of requesting.
So now I’m going to hop into my Time Machine (bet you wish you had one of these!) and take us about 145 years in the past.
[cue the "rewind" sound effect]
William “Billy” Gallagher was born on September 8, 1870 to William and Kate Gallagher. William was born in Ireland around 1847 and immigrated with his family when he was only 2 years old. Kate was born in Pennsylvania. William and Kate were married around 1869, possibly July (if the 1870 census record I found is the right one).
William and Kate had at least three more children by 1880: Fannie, Lizzie, and Emma, and they were living at 1025 Broadway in Camden, New Jersey. This address looks a little something like this today:
It looks like William was working in a planing mill.
An index listing for the 1885 New Jersey census shows the family living in Camden, and now there are two more children: Joseph and Franklin. Lizzie is missing from this enumeration – I found a death record for an Elizabeth Gallagher, age 9, who died on 17 May 1883. The dates roughly fit, but I won’t know until I see the actual certificate, which I have ordered. There is also a person (whom I assume is a boarder of some sort): Watson Parker. (This name never appears in any other record at any other time, as far as I can tell).
I sort of lose track of Billy between 1885 and 1900, but during this time he marries Mary Wilsey and they have four children. Burnet J. was a male child born on May 23, 1893, but died before 1900. Joseph M. is born in May 1894, and Bernard was born in June 1898. Another child is born during that time, but dies before 1900.
In 1900, Billy and Mary are living at 201 W. 46th Street in Manhattan (which today can be found smack in the middle of Times Square). Too bad they were only renting. Billy owns a saloon located at 31st and Broadway.
I think it is also appropriate to add at this time that in 1900 Billy’s father William was ALSO a saloon keeper in Camden, New Jersey. Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
So here is another mystery: Who is this Henry Gallagher listed with William as a boarder in 1900? He is an iron moulder and is 10 years older than William, but is supposedly born in New Jersey. I found a couple I believe to be William’s parents (Patrick and Mary – don’t get much more Irish than that, I guess) in Camden, New Jersey in 1860. William has a brother, Harry, who is an “iron moulder” and is 10 years older. Sounds plausible that this could be William’s brother. Obviously, I need to dig deeper into this.
On February 22, 1902, Billy’s son Walter is born. Shortly thereafter, likely before Walter’s first birthday, Billy and Mary are divorced.
For me, this was a big deal. This was the first divorce (the most recent two generations notwithstanding) I had run across in my entire tree. This means court records, potential church records, and who knows what else might be uncovered!
What we discovered next will surprise you too!